Brent Bookwalter (BMC) heads to the Vuelta a España where he will try again to score a result of his own. By Jen See

For most of the year, Brent Bookwalter rides for the big names at the BMC Racing Team, but last week at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, he had the chance to play for his own results. Bookwalter took home two straight third place finishes. Now, he heads to the Vuelta a España, where he will try again to score a result of his own. The BMC Racing Team does not have a preset leader for the general classification at the Vuelta. When the cats are gone, the mice will play.

 

“It’s really good, almost liberating,” Bookwalter told Cycling Illustrated during last week’s Tour of Utah. “What we’re doing here, that type of racing, that’s what drew most of us to the sport. It’s motivating and inspiring to have a little bit of freedom. [Read more…]

With a solo attack on the relentlessly steep Empire Pass, Levi Leipheimer won the final stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. He’s Back!

With a solo attack on the relentlessly steep Empire Pass, Levi Leipheimer won the final stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Leipheimer discovered the massive final climb of the race while out training, and encouraged the race organizers to include it this year’s edition of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Rabobank’s Steven Kruijswijk won the sprint for second ahead of Leopold Koenig of NetApp.

[Read more…]

Ian Boswell (Bontrager-Livestrong) Reaches for the Sky By : Jen See

photo credit: Christopher See

When Ian Boswell of Bontrager-Livestrong attacked the field on the climb to Snowbird on Saturday, it looked like just another attack in the high mountains. Boswell and his teammate Joe Dombrowski have gained a reputation for aggressive riding when the road turns up and Dombrowski, who counter-attacked after Boswell, finished third at the end of the day.

 

But Boswell was thinking about more than bike racing. On Saturday his strong legs carried a heavy heart up the mountain, as Boswell raced the stage in memory of a childhood friend, Matt Gold. Two months ago, the 34-year-old Gold was killed in a sky-diving accident in Oregon.

 

Photo Credit: Christopher See

“I rode today for him, and it was a super special today for me and my family,” said Boswell after the stage. “It means a lot to do something like that — to have something special to ride for beyond just results. He helped me today.”

 

According to Boswell, Gold was a huge supporter of his career. “The Tour of Utah was something special for him and me,” said Boswell. “He was out here every day cheering me on.” Currently, 21 years old, Boswell finished third overall at the 2010 Tour of Utah. This year, Boswell is sitting sixth at 1:03 ahead of the final mountainous day of racing.

Boswell is part of the talented posse of young American rides coming up through the ranks. Together with his teammate Dombrowski, he is a talented climber and has begun to accumulate the results to show for it.

 

Earlier this year, Boswell finished second behind Dane Michael Valgren Anderson at the U23 edition of the Ardennes classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The April race came at an emotional time for Boswell. “I’ve cried twice before a race,” he said on Saturday. “One was Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year. I was going through some troubles.”

 

The second time came on Saturday morning before the stage to Snowbird when Boswell watched a video he had made about Gold’s life. As Boswell prepared to race, Gold’s family prepared to celebrate his life in the high mountains that he loved best. “Today, his family came up here with my mom, and they spread his ashes up here, because this this is where he lived in the wilderness, and skied and skydived,” said Boswell.

 

On the road to Snowbird, Boswell attacked inside the final six kilometers after Gamin-Sharp’s Peter Stetina had whittled down the field. Only a select group of riders remained. The road tilted to the heavens, and Boswell set out to touch the sky.

 

At the finish, Boswell’s mother and Gold’s family waited, and they fell into a tearful embrace. It was the kind of moment that gives the sport its human face. Under their helmets and behind their mirrored sunglasses, the riders in the peloton sometimes blur into an indistinguishable kaleidoscope of color and speed. A ride like Boswell’s on Snowbird gives us a glimpse of the people inside.

 

“To ride for him, whether that meant finishing first or last, just to give it my all, it’s something special to have,” said Boswell after the stage. “And I did that today.”

Photo Credit:Christopher See

 

 

Johann Tschopp of BMC Racing Team rode away from the field in the final five kilometers of the climb to Snowbird to win the queen stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and now is in YELLOW!

Johann Tschopp of BMC Racing Team rode away from the field in the final five kilometers of the climb to Snowbird to win the queen stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Tschopp also took over the yellow jersey of race leader as Christian Vande Velde suffered in the high altitude. Earlier this week, Brent Bookwalter touted his teammate Tschopp as a rider to watch in these final climbing stages, and today proved Bookwalter right.

Leopold Koenig of the German NetApp team finished second. Up-and-coming climbing talent Joe Dombrowski lost contact with Koenig on the descent just before the final ramp to the finish and crossed the line in third place. Dombrowski’s ride on the inexorable climb to Snowbird also earned him the Subaru Best Young Rider jersey. [Read more…]

Keogh Has His Day in Utah By Jen See

In front of the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Jacob Keogh of UnitedHealthcare sprinted to win today’s stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. From the start of the six day tour, everyone predicted that Friday’s long, flat stage would end in a sprint, however the breakaway nearly spoiled the sprinters’ plans and the field only came back together inside the final kilometer for a rocket fast finish.

Marco Benfatto (Liquigas-Cannondale) finished second, and Tyler Farrar (Garmin- Sharp) took third. Christian Vande Velde finished safely in the field to retain the race lead ahead of tomorrow’s difficult mountain stage to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. [Read more…]

Looking Forward to the Weekend; The top riders at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah talk mountains.

The Larry H. Miller speeds toward its mountainous finale this weekend with two back-to-back climbing stages. Saturday’s stage finishes at 8000 feet above sea level at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Though on Sunday the race finishes with a descent to the finish, the course includes Empire Pass which climbs more than 3000 feet. Only a true climber will love the looks of those two stage profiles.

 

The real general classification battle begins on Saturday.  “Everything’s window-dressing until tomorrow,” said Team Bissell’s Chris Baldwin before the stage on Friday before the long, flat stage. Going into the mountains, Garmin-Sharp holds the top three positions in the general classification with Christian Vande Velde in the yellow jersey of race leader, Tom Danielson in second, and Dave Zabriskie in third. Garmin-Sharp also has young climber Peter Stetina is fourth at thirty seconds. Taken together, those four riders present a formidable barricade to any rider hoping to take home the yellow jersey on Sunday.  [Read more…]

Matthews the Strongest in Salt Lake City By Jen See

After a hot and hilly race between Ogden and Salt Lake City, Michael “Bling” Matthews of Rabobank won Thursday’s stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The stage followed a similar pattern to Tuesday’s opening stage, and Matthews won from a group of around 60 riders.

Michael Schär (BMC Racing Team) finished second. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) who sprinted for third during stage one, finished third again in Salt Lake City. Garmin-Sharp rode a tactically controlled race, and successfully defended Christian Vande Velde’s race lead. Vande Velde’s teammates, Tom Danielson and David Zabriskie, still sit second and third in the overall.

The race rolled out through Ogden’s zig-zag streets and the first climb of the day, North Ogden Divide, came up abruptly. As the main field powered up the climb, groups of riders splintered off the back. Up ahead, Lucas Euser (Spidertech) crossed the summit of the climb first, followed by Ian Boswell (Bontrager-Livestrong) and Mathias Flueckiger (BMC Racing Team).

The day’s breakaway formed on the serpentine descent off the North Ogden Divide. The break included Johann Tschopp (BMC Racing Team), Thomas Rohregger (Radio Shack-Nissan), eventual stage-winner Michael Matthews (Rabobank), Timothy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare).

Duggan said after the stage that he had not really planned to go in the break, but he was in the right place. “If you’re in position, you have to go for it,” he said after the stage.

Garmin-Sharp was never going to give the break much road to ride, because Tschopp began the stage 58 seconds behind race leader Vande Velde. The break hit the four minute mark on Trapper Loop, the second KOM of the day. Once the race returned to the flat valley roads, Garmin-Sharp began to chase in earnest, and the gap dropped steadily.

As the race climbed up twisty road around the East Canyon Reservoir, the gap to the break held at two minutes. The main field shrank in number as the relentless climbing and hot weather took their toll. Garmin-Sharp kept chipping away at the gap and at the base of the final climb over Big Mountain; the break was within reach at just over a minute up the road.

The road wound up Big Mountain under the shade of aspen and pine trees. Tschopp proved the strongest of the break and rode away from his companions. Duggan put up a solid chase, but never did catch the flying BMC rider. Behind, Matthews and Rohregger began working together, while Colombian Rafael Infantino (EMP-UNE) attacked from the main field in search of mountains glory. Nathan Haas and Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp), meanwhile, drifted back through the cars, their job done for the day.

Over the top of the final climb of the day, Tschopp rode a minute ahead of Infantino and Duggan. Thanks to his efforts in the break, Duggan secured the King of the Mountains jersey. Behind the lead three, the field still led by Garmin-Sharp trailed at 1:35.

For the next ten kilometers, Tschopp rode solo off the front in a valiant, but doomed effort to stay away. At the end of the day, he took home the prize for most aggressive rider. His position in the general classification insured that Garmin-Sharp would keep him under custody.

Inside ten kilometers to go, it was all back together. Garmin-Sharp had played their cards perfectly. “They let the leash out a little, but they timed it perfectly,” said Duggan after the stage. With the finish line fast approaching, Liquigas-Cannondale went to the front in the hope of setting up Damiano Caruso for the sprint. Then, BMC Racing Team took over.

Matthews, who spent the day in the break, followed Rory Sutherland, who started his sprint early in the hope of repeating his stage 1 victory. “I had to go around the long way,” said Matthews of his sprint. The Rabobank rider, who won the U23 World Championship in 2010, won the sprint and took over the lead in the points classification. Behind him, BMC crowded the podium with Schär finishing second and Bookwalter third.

Three riders were disqualified from the race on Thursday. Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Jonas Ahlstrand (Team Argos-Shimano), and Tom Slagter (Rabobank) were all kicked out of the race by the commissaries. According to the race organizers, the commissaires ruling resulted from the riders hanging on to the cars. Brammeier and Ahlstrand were dropped early on the first climb of the day.

Friday’s stage runs 216 kilometers from the Xango HQ in Lehi to Salt Lake City. The race follows a lollipop-shaped course and heads out to the flatlands of Rush Valley for a quick tour. Then, the course back-tracks and heads north over mostly flat terrain. There are no categorized climbs on the course profile and it should be a day for the sprinters.

Peter Stetina of Garmin-Sharp gets the perfect birthday present at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

On Wednesday, Peter Stetina of Garmin-Sharp celebrated his 25th birthday. His Garmin-Sharp team came up with the perfect birthday present. They won the day’s stage with a smoking fast time trial around the Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City. Thanks to the team’s victory, Christian Vande Velde took over the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah leader’s jersey.

 

Of course, Stetina had to earn his birthday present, and it was not an easy day for him. The young American is best known for his climbing talents, and riding a team time trial with the big-engine specialists like seven-time U.S. national champion David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, and Tyler Farrar is a challenge. “We went so fast, I could barely contribute,” he said after the stage. “I came off with three kilometers to go, and I was still faster than the second-placed team.”

 

Garmin-Sharp have become one of the top teams in the world in the specialized discipline of the team time trial. It is not enough to have a team filled with big engines. Producing lots of lightbulbs on the bike is only part of the story of a successful team time trial. “It’s an art form,” said Stetina. “You start by having won, if everything goes perfect.” The strongest team to make the fewest mistakes wins the day.

 

On Wednesday, that team was Garmin-Sharp. Though the team’s big engines dropped Stetina off the back at three kilometers to go, he remains fourth in the general classification behind his teammates Vande Velde, Danielson, and Zabriskie. With his favorite terrain still to come, it is a nice position for Stetina.

 

Stetina turned professional in 2009, after riding for the Slipstream development team. Stetina’s first major victory came when he won the junior national road race title in 2005. That year, the race was held on a difficult loop around Park City, Utah. Stetina also won an U23 national title in the time trial and claimed a podium spot in the U23 road race in 2008.

 

The Garmin-Sharp rider comes from a family rich with cycling history. Both his father Dale and his uncle Wayne raced professionally in the late 1980’s. They traded wins at the Coors Classic stage race, the precursor to the present-day USA Pro Challenge, and both brothers won national championship titles. Dale Stetina shares the record with Greg Lemond for the most victories at the Coors Classic.

 

For American riders like Stetina, the growing calendar of stage races in the United States is a dream come true. Three major stage races —the Amgen Tour of California, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge — now draw top level international talent. “It just makes it so much more fun,” said Stetina. Racing in Europe far from family and friends can be isolating. “We have to be solo over there. Over here, you get to enjoy your life more rather than living solely around the bike.”

 

Stetina now looks forward to the late season double of Utah and Colorado. “Now we’re in the fun part of the season where you’re not in Europe all the time suffering,” he said. Stetina and his American teammates can live at home and follow the more familiar patterns of their home country. “It just makes life more fun and when you’re having fun, the results just come.”

 

Last year, Stetina came to the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah with hopes of a high general classification finish. An early crash put an end to that idea. Though he recovered in time to do a good ride on the climb to Snowbird, Stetina finished more than ten minutes behind overall winner Levi Leipheimer. His Garmin-Sharp team, meanwhile, put a heavier emphasis on the USA Pro Challenge, because of the team’s deep Colorado roots.

 

Garmin-Sharp comes to Utah with different ambitions this year after a disappointing run of luck in July. The team’s hopes of chasing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France came to a screeching halt when a massive crash ripped through the field during the first week. Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal, the team’s general classification hopes, were forced to abandon. Vande Velde continued the race, and came achingly close to scoring a stage victory from a breakaway. It was not the Tour that Garmin-Sharp envisioned at the start in Liège, by any means.

 

Stetina expects his teammates to ride hard for the general classification this week in Utah. “I think we’re treating it differently, this year,” he said. “Tommy D didn’t have the best Tour and he’s motivated. Christian didn’t have the best Tour either, so he’s motivated.” The team time trial victory has put both Danielson and Vande Velde in a good position to win, but they will still have some hard riding to do when the race hits the two climbing stages this weekend.

 

Riding his third year as a professional, Stetina typically rides as the last support rider in the mountains. At the Giro d’Italia in May, Stetina rode at the front through Italy’s high mountain passes. On Alpe di Pampeago, he hit the climb at the front of the field to set up a decisive move from Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal. Hesjedal went on to win the overall at the Giro. For Stetina, the experience of defending the race lead at the Italian grand tour was a milestone in his career.

 

“It was career-changing,” he said. “To be on the winning team, we worked so hard for him to do that, to take that home, it was a huge success for all of us. To be part of that, you learn so much, and you have all this experience to dwell on later. It’s huge.”

 

Stetina’s role at this Tour of Utah depends on his teammates. If Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde have good legs for the climbs, Stetina will ride in their support. “It kind of depends on where those guy’s values lie,” he said. But Stetina is also confident in his own strength. “I have actually hit some new highs personally in terms of climbing, so maybe I’ll get my own chance,” he said.

 

The young American is at a potential turning point in his career. At age 25, he is heading toward his best years as a cyclist. He is clearly happy to ride in support of his teammates, especially if it means winning big races. “I’m always comfortable to fit into the mountain super-domestique role,” he said. “It’s fine.”

 

He sounds a little like he’s convincing himself, and it’s not hard to see that Stetina itches for a win of his own. Riding for a team like Garmin-Sharp means celebrating successes on some of cycling’s biggest stages. But there is a trade-off for a younger rider like Stetina, who must wait his turn and wait for his legs to catch up with his ambitions. “I’ve never had a break-out season. I have just consistently gotten a little bit more and a little bit more,” he said.

 

Stetina draws inspiration from Hesjedal’s Giro victory. “He was always good, but nobody ever called him a grand tour contender,” Stetina explained. “He just built up the base year after year after year.” When Hesjedal pulled on the Giro’s pink jersey in Milano, he offered Stetina an example of how a slow, but steady development as a rider could well lead to a big victory in the end.

 

For now, Stetina will celebrate his team’s time trial victory and his 25th birthday. He will prepare to ride in support of Danielson and Vande Velde when the road turns up. But Stetina will also look for his own opportunity. “I need to win a race,” he said. “It’s really good being the mountain domestique, but it’d be nice to cross the line first. I haven’t given up the dream.”

 

 

Garmin -Sharp wins stage two of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, puts Vande Velde in the lead. by Jen See.

 

Garmin-Sharp in Command at Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

 

Garmin-Sharp has made a habit of winning team time trials and the team counts Tour de France and Giro d’Italia stages among their team victories. On Wednesday at the Miller Motorsports Park, Garmin-Sharp made good on their promise and won the team time trial stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Their time of 22:35 propelled Christian Vande Velde into the race lead.

 

“It’s great! It’s an event that we’ve always been good at. We put a little more effort into it, because we know we can do well,” said Vande Velde after the stage. “When you have confidence, it takes the pressure off.”

 

The Dutch Rabobank squad finished second, while Radio Shack-Nissan slotted into third. The upset of the day came from the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team of last year’s winner Levi Leipheimer. They struggled to find a rhythm and in fact, had to regroup twice during their ride. At the end of the day, Leipheimer dropped more than two minutes to new race leader Vande Velde.

 

The race unfolded under increasing cloud cover on the spaghetti shaped course of the Miller Motorsports Park. The early teams faced solid winds that complicated the business of rounding the course’s many corners. Garmin-Sharp pre-rode the course in heavy winds, and as result, opted for shallow-dish front wheels.

 

As the day went on, the clouds increased and the wind died down and switched directions. Teams such as Garmin-Sharp, Rabobank, and Radio Shack-Nissan raced in calmer conditions than the teams with earlier start times.

 

The standings in the teams classification determined the start order, and on Tuesday, both BMC Racing Team and Garmin-Sharp tried to get as many riders to place well on the stage as possible to secure a later start time.

 

As the stage began, the German Net-App team set the early fast time. For the teams based in the United States, meanwhile, the team time trial is not the typical day at the office, but that did not stop Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies from holding the fastest time for part of the day. Team Bissell, who has former time trial champions in Jeremy Vennell and Chris Baldwin, also had a strong ride to finish fourth.

 

As the pro tour teams began rolling out, the standings changed quickly. Garmin-Sharp rocketed to the top slot. The team rode the fastest lap time on their first time around the course with a 7:24. Still, they had to wait for Rabobank, Radio Shack-Nissan, and BMC Racing Team to finish.

 

The team time trial always mixes up the general classification. Overnight leader Rory Sutherland started the day ten seconds ahead of Vande Velde, thanks to the time bonus from Tuesday’s stage victory. Sutherland’s United Healthcare team put in a determined effort to finish fifth, but it was not enough to defend the race lead for Sutherland.

 

Garmin-Sharp now sits in the catbird seat with climbers Vande Velde and Tom Danielson sitting at the top of the general classification at same time. Chris Horner and Matt Busche of Radio Shack-Nissan are the closest rivals to the Garmin-Sharp riders at just 38 seconds behind.

 

A horde of riders sit right around a minute behind Vande Velde. Bissell Pro Cycling’s general classification hopeful Chris Baldwin is at 50 seconds off the race lead and is well-positioned ahead of the mountain stages. Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing Team, who finished third on Tuesday’s stage, is at 54 seconds.

 

Past winner of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Francisco Mancebo of Competitive Cyclist is at 1:06, while Bontrager-Livestrong’s climbing talent Joe Dombrowski is at 1:08. Last year’s overall winner Levi Leipheimer is 2:04 behind after a rough day at the races for his team.

 

On Thursday, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah returns to a more regular pattern. The stage runs 137 kilometers from Ogden to Salt Lake City. The course includes three categorized climbs, and the final climb of the day summits just outside 26 kilometers to race.

 

From the final climb of the day up Big Mountain, it’s a long descent to the finish. The descent begins with a technical switchbacking road down from the summit of Big Mountain. With around 15 kilometers to go, the road opens up for a fast run-in into Salt Lake City. Inside the final kilometer, there’s a sharp right-hand turn, just to keep everyone guessing.

 

 

How well do you know Ben Jacques-Maynes by Jen See.

Ben Jacques-Maynes of Team Bissell is a familiar face in the breakaways at any major stage race. During Tuesday’s stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Jacques-Maynes rode the break for nearly 190 kilometers. The field caught him in sight of the final climb over North Ogden Divide, but Jacques-Maynes was not disappointed. He never really expected the breakaway to stay away. Just being there was good enough.

 

For a time last winter, Jacques-Maynes was not sure he would ever be there again. A broken collarbone turned into a severe bone infection that jeopardized his career and his long-term health. Jacques-Maynes fought a desperate battle against the infection in his body and the fears in his mind.

 

Bike racing is his passion, and once the worst of his illness was past, he was determined to return to his best level on the bike. “I just knew that I wasn’t done yet. I knew that I was in a real low place, but I knew this isn’t the end of me,” said Jacques-Maynes. “This isn’t the end of my story.”

 

Jacques-Maynes and his Bissell team play the hecklers at stage races like the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. They instigate the day’s early breakaways with a metronomic regularity. Listen to race radio, and one of the first updates on any stage will almost certainly be that a Bissell rider has attacked the field and has a small gap. In a team of escape artists, Ben Jacques-Maynes and Jeremy Vennell nearly always find a way to break free from field’s bonds.

 

“That’s what we’re here for at these races. We want to fly the Bissell flag as high as we can all day, every day,” he said. The team has also come to Utah with ambitions for a high general classification finish for Chris Baldwin. But Jacques-Maynes was quick to say that the team would still do the hard work of attacking the race. “We’re still here to animate the race, and really make it a good race.”

 

Finding the right breakaway is more complicated than it sounds. On paper, it appears clinical. The big teams allow a group to go up the road. The reality is considerably more chaotic. “The situation is so fluid,” explained Jacques-Maynes. Riders are constantly jumping up the road, while the big teams with general classification ambitions shut down any break that grows too big or includes a dangerous rider for the overall.

 

For the would-be escapists, getting into the right break means committing to an all-out effort, while constantly calculating the chances of success. “You’ve got to be able to want to go, and to have the gumption,” said Jacques-Maynes. “But then, also, you can’t be stupid and waste your effort.” On Tuesday, Radio Shack-Nissan was determined to prevent a big breakaway from going. “If it’s eight or nine guys, you know, Radio Shack was killing moves that were that big.”

 

If Jacques-Maynes does not think the break will work, he sits up and tries again. During Tuesday’s stage, Jacques-Maynes and his team mate Jeremy Vennell each tried twice to get a move going. “You gotta get the right combination of guys,” said Jacques-Maynes. “You have to keep your head on the swivel. You’re looking at the guys, at who’s riding well, who’s up the road.”

 

On Tuesday, Jacques-Maynes found the right combination. The initial four-rider group was big enough to make tracks, but small enough to receive their passport to freedom from the big teams. William Clarke of Champion System came across to the group to make five.

 

“It was a really decent working group, especially when William Clarke came up and made a fifth guy,” said Jacques-Maynes. “The fastest breakaways are the ones where everyone’s pulling and there’s no weak leg.” On Tuesday, the break worked well together for much of the stage, despite climbs that punctuated the course. “We had it for the first four hours, then some guys’ wheels fell off.”

 

For Jacques-Maynes the successful breakaway meant flying his sponsor’s flag. This time it also won him the mountains jersey, much to his surprise. In the run-in to the first KOM, Jacques-Maynes took advantage of his rivals expectations. “I think they were looking at one another too much,” he said. “I surprised them on the first one.”

 

Jacques-Maynes also benefitted from the nature of the day’s climbs. Each one flattened at the summit. “Every single one of those sprints, I ended up in the eleven tooth at the top of the hill,” he said. “It was a full sprint.” Jacques-Maynes is not a rider for the bunch sprints, but he can out jump the climbers in the right terrain. “Looking back, I can definitely see how it suited me so well. It wasn’t some steep ramp like we’re going to have later on this week.”

 

Though he is a frequent flyer in the breakaways, Jacques-Maynes rarely expects to make   it to the finish. Even with more than 11 minutes over the main field on Tuesday, Jacques-Maynes knew eventually it would all come back together. Indeed, he expected the break to get caught long before it did, especially when it became clear that all the major teams were contributing to the chase. The group still had a five minute gap late in the race, but Jacques-Maynes was not fooled. “Come on, I can do the math on it. Five minutes, 50 k. I know that math!”

 

Three riders against the combined might of the main field do not have much chance of success. “It doesn’t matter who motivated you are, you just can’t produce the power and your legs are pooping out on you,” he explained. A 211 kilometer stage under the blazing desert sun is a long day on the bike. “It’s why breakaways rarely work,” he said. “You have to be able to do something really special to be able to ride hard for five hours, and maintain the same pace that the guys with fresh legs are doing.”

 

Just as he weighs his options in the early kilometers of the race while he looks for the right breakaway, Jacques-Maynes is always calculating as the kilometers tick by. “I can read the writing on the wall,” he said. “You get to watch them, but I get to ride them. I’m doing the same analysis. I’m seeing who’s chasing, with how many guys, how fast is the time gap coming down versus how hard am I riding here, can I motivate these guys.” It’s a matter of measuring.

 

Cycling is a social game. The interaction among the riders is what makes cycling a compelling sport both to do and to watch. “If I wanted to do a full-out effort, I’d probably race on the track or mountain biking or something,” said Jacques-Maynes. “It’s the interacting. It’s the using guys, and working with them or racing against them, and how quickly the tables can turn. That’s what makes it fun and what keeps me coming back.”

 

Injuries have a way of shifting an athlete’s perspective. Some riders walk away from the sport, while others return with their passion for the sport intensified. Jacques-Maynes broke his collarbone last year. That relatively straightforward injury escalated into a months-long ordeal for the Bissell rider when he acquired a severe bone infection. “The level of infection that I had, it could have been life-threatening or really debilitating,” he said. “I was getting some bad prognoses, and being told to check in at the hospital constantly.”

 

To combat the infection, Jacques-Maynes received a heavy dose of antibiotics that required complete rest. As the infection ran its course, he was hospitalized several times. “I spent many afternoons and evenings in the ER to be check out,” he said. It was a nerve-wracking and exhausting time for Jacques-Maynes. “I was a mess physically, and I turned into an emotional mess.”

 

The long period of inactivity forced introversion. But as his health returned, Jacques-Maynes’ determination returned with it. “It really showed me that this is my passion, it’s what I’m built to do,” he said of cycling. He also did not want to end his career with an injury. “I don’t want to go out like this. I want to come back,” he said.

 

The long illness wiped out the normal winter training period for Jacques-Maynes. “I’m actually happy that it’s only taken a year,” he said. “It was a lot to come back from. It’s been hard work to get back.” He started his season late, and he is already looking forward to being able to prepare more thoroughly for next season. Last winter meant trying to recover his health. “I’m riding like this now, it would be nice to see how it feels to step it up even another level, and really have an even better season after that,” he said of his plans for the coming off-season.

 

But that is for the future. Here at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Jacques-Maynes will be trying to make the break every day. It’s what he does, and what he was built to do. Back in the sport he loves, Jacques-Maynes is writing his story one pedalstroke at a time.